StellarCon 36 pics, and moar better older women in fantasy

I've been meaning to post these ever since author J. Thomas Ross graciously gave me permission to post some of the pictures she took at StellarCon 36. She did an awesome recap of StellarCon 36, so I will redirect you to her for more pictures of and a great summary of the con.

All of the photographs below are copyright of J. Thomas Ross, so please check with her before reposting:

I'm just posting pictures from a few of the panels that I was on. You can also see some of the other panelists who helped make StellarCon such a great experience for me.

Religion in SFF:

From left to right: Theresa Bane, Teresa Frohock, Diana Bastine, and Janine K. Spendlove

In Religion in SFF, we talked about how to weave religious beliefs into your writing without pushing doctrine.

One part of StellarCon that I really enjoyed but don't have pictures for was the SONAR presentations. J. Thomas has these pictures on her blog.

These were very informative and I'm so glad StellarCon made time for them. Although I know that cons are pushed for room space and time, I hope next year StellarCon finds a way to give each SONAR presenter a full hour. The presentations were just that good.

I got to attend the SONAR presentation on Women in Combat by Chris Berman. Chris talked about the differences between male and female pilots during WWII. The Russians had an elite team of female bomber pilots that were deadly. They were called (and I love this name) The Night Witches.

Chris carefully outlined male/female brain differences, and the differences in how men and women perceive various combat situations. One great example he had was that the fight or flight impulse in men is almost instantaneous. Women process information differently, and this impulse is delayed, which means a woman will assess the situation more completely before fighting or running.

If you want to read a little about The Night Witches, you can check out Chris's tribute to these magnificent warriors on his website.

From left to right: Davey Beauchamp, Nicole Givens Kurtz, and Teresa FrohockNow who says librarians and teachers are a droll lot. We had so much fun on this panel, I'm surprised we didn't disturb the panel next door. One thing we all agreed upon: libraries are communities and you should get involved with yours today.

Next up is from one of my favorite panels: Strong Female Characters.

Left to right: Diana Bastine, Michael Z. Williamson, Teresa Frohock, and Chris Berman

I was really lucky to sit on quite a few panels with Diana Bastine, but it was the two panels on women that I found her insights to be very revealing. We talked about qualities other than kicking ass that made women strong, and we talked about the absolute dearth of strong older female characters. Diana pointed out (and rightly so) that older women are also hidden in society.

So our battlecry henceforth is: MOAR BETTER OLDER WOMEN IN FANTASY!

And we don't mean old ladies living in cottages, dispensing cookies and wisdom in equal measure. We want to see older women functioning in these utopian societies young women are building, because I got news for you girls, one day you'll be forty and old too.

While we're on the subject, I also want to point out that the audiences were comprised of people of all ages (please pay attention, publishers). Young people aren't the only ones who read fantasy. Fantasy is a genre loved by the young and old, and we would like to see more novels with characters that reflect this demographic. Not all protagonists have to be twenty-something for us to enjoy the novel.

Okay, rant over.

If you missed StellarCon 36, you have not completely lost out. I'm going to remind you one more time that J. Thomas has more pictures and an excellent write-up on her blog. She talks about some of the panels that she attended with Pat Rothfuss and Michael A. Stackpole. Check out her blog. I would like to thank her again for her kind permission to use the photos she took of my panelists and me.

If you missed it this year, stay tuned, because StellarCon 37 is coming next March.

Winning Bid for the Dolorosa Tuckerization

StellarCon 36 was one of the best ever for me. I was horribly nervous before the con because this was my first time as a guest, but the authors and organizers at StellarCon 36 made it a wonderful experience.

Later on, I hope to share some of the great information that I learned from the panels I attended, but for now, I did want to let everyone know who submitted the winning bid for the DolorosaTuckerization. StellarCon 36 held a charity auction for Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro and Patrick Rothfuss's favorite charity Worldbuilders on Saturday night to a packed room of bidders.

To help raise money for the auction, I offered up a Tuckerization in Dolorosa, the sequel to Miserere.

I am thrilled to announce the winning bidder is: Yair Goldberg and he asked that the character bearing his name be associated with the Rabbinate.

I always find that coming up with the perfect character name is the most difficult part of writing a story. Although Yair might disagree, I feel more like the winner in this instance. I'm looking forward to beginning Dolorosa, and even though it's a bit distant, I'm really looking forward to StellarCon 37 next year.

Would you like to be a character in Dolorosa?

StellarCon 36 is hosting a charity auction on Saturday, March 3, 2012 to help out two very worthy causes: Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro and Patrick Rothfuss's favorite charity Worldbuilders.

The good folks at StellarCon 36 have asked for donations, and I am offering up two items for two separate bids:

  1. An autographed copy of Miserere: An Autumn Tale
  2. A Tuckerization in Dolorosa: A Winter's Dream.

The autographed copy is pretty self-explanatory, but the Tuckerization comes with rules so that everyone's expectations are on the same page. Here is how it shall work:

The Katharoi series takes place in Woerld. Here, the four realms of existence—Heaven, Earth, Woerld, and Hell—are like four lakes joined by tiny streams; toss a pebble into Hell and the ripples would extend to the farthermost reaches of Heaven.

Woerld is Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell. The Fallen Angels and their demons seek to open the Hell Gates so their hordes may conquer Woerld, then they intend to overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven’s Gates. The Katharoi are spiritual warriors on par with the Knights Templar. Rather than just Christianity, the Katharoi represent all the religions on Earth—there are Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans—and each religion maintains a bastion where they train their members to fight the Fallen.

Now here are the rules for the Tuckerization:

Since the members of the Katharoi are children from Earth who have been drawn through the Crimson Veil into Woerld, you can keep your real name. The character will have your name only and any physical or psychological characteristics will be up to the author and your choice of alignment. In other words, the author (that being me) retains all rights to the character.

You get three choices:

  1. You can pick your bastion (or which religion you would like to be associated with);
  2. If you are atheist or agnostic, let me know and I will work you into the story from that angle. (For example, I need a knife merchant and no affiliation to any religion need be mentioned if that is your preference.);
  3. You can be aligned with the Fallen as a human (just be aware that things often turn out very badly for those in option #3).

After that, you’ll have to trust me to work you and your role into the story. If something should happen and Dolorosa isn't published, I will do everything in my power to assure the winner of the StellarCon 36 Charity Auction Dolorosa Tuckerization some form of a Tuckerization in a future novel; however, in a future novel, your name may need to be changed slightly to fit the novel and the location of the story. We'll burn that bridge together when the time comes. Either way (in Dolorosa or in a future novel), I retain full creative license to write the character for the story.

Where will all this be?

Place: Best Western High Point, 135 South Main St, High Point, NC 27260

Time: Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. see your StellarCon 36 program for the location

Note: You must be present to bid.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at StellarCon 36 and helping to raise money for these wonderful organizations.

StellarCon 36 panel schedule

I just received my schedule for StellarCon 36, and they have a spectacular line-up of panels and guests this year. It all begins on Friday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. and rolls through Sunday, March 4. For those who are interested, I'll be on the following activities and panels:

Friday, March 2

5:00 PM I'll be signing books, come by and meet me if you have a moment.

Saturday, March 3

10:00 AM Religion in SFF Many beloved science fiction and fantasy series have religious undertones. Our panelists discuss the nature of faith in genre fiction, and what the popularity of these themes might say about fandom.

11:00 AM I'll be reading from Miserere and if time allows, from The Garden.

4:00 PM The Heroine's Journey Does the Heroine's Journey differ in some way from that of the Hero? An examination of the heroine's role in genre fiction.

7:00 PM Libraries of the Future With the growing popularity of e-books, what will happen to our libraries?

Sunday, March 4

10:00 AM Strong Female Characters Ever since Xena and Buffy brought the idea of the strong female character to the forefront of pop culture, the concept has shifted from novelty to cliche. Writers discuss the trick to doing it well without falling into any of the obvious traps.